In the first of a weekly series focusing on Northern Ireland legends, we’re kicking things off with a look at none other than Norman Whiteside.
The former Manchester United and Everton player was an integral part of our World Cup adventures in ’82 and ’86 and here we uncover some little-known facts about a man who went on to become a household name.
Whiteside is one of 10 Northern Ireland players featured in the Hall of Fame exhibit at the Education and Heritage Centre at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park.
In June 1982 in Spain, aged just 17 years and 41 days, Norman Whiteside became the youngest player to appear in the finals of a World Cup - a record which still stands today.
Despite his tender years, manager Billy Bingham decided to throw the fresh-faced Manchester United youngster into Northern Ireland’s opening World Cup encounter with Yugoslavia, beating Pele’s 24-year record in the process.
In 1983 he scored his most famous goal in a green shirt when his 50th-minute strike gave Northern Ireland an historic 1-0 over West Germany
Belfast-born Whiteside made his debut for United while still only 16 and in his first full season at Old Trafford he also became the youngest player to score in both League and FA Cup finals at Wembley.
In 1983 he undoubtedly scored his most famous goal in a green shirt when his 50th-minute strike gave Northern Ireland an historic 1-0 over West Germany in a European Championship qualifier in Hamburg.
Whiteside also helped Billy Bingham’s side lift the British Home International Championship in 1984, in what was the 100th and final edition of the competition.
In 1986 Northern Ireland again qualified for the World Cup – this time in Mexico – with Whiteside scoring in the opening match, a 1-1 draw with Algeria in Guadalajara.
After netting 68 goals in 278 games for Manchester United, he joined Everton for a fee of £600,000 in the summer of 1989. However, after just 37 appearances for the Merseyside club, he was forced to retire at the age of just 26 because of a persistent knee injury.
Stat pack: 10 little-known facts about Norman Whiteside
- 36 of Whiteside’s 38 caps were won as a Manchester United player, the remaining two came during his spell at Everton.
- In the eight friendly internationals he played for Northern Ireland he was never on the losing side (two wins and six draws).
- Seven of Whiteside’s nine international goals were scored at Windsor Park, four in front of the old Kop and three at the Railway End of the ground.
- Six of his international goals for his country were scored with his left foot, the other three were headers.
- Whiteside started every one of his 38 outings for Northern Ireland, playing the full 90 minutes in no fewer than 28 of them.
- In total he played 3,199 minutes of international football. It was broken down into: ECQ – 894 minutes; WCQ – 810 minutes; WCF – 623 minutes; Friendlies – 602 minutes; BIC – 270 minutes.
- Whiteside captained his country on three occasions, versus Poland in March 1988 (drew 1-1), Hungary in September 1989 (lost 2-1) and then in his final international appearance against the Republic of Ireland in Dublin in October 1989 (lost 3-0).
- He only picked up five yellow cards during his seven years as a full international. His first booking came on his debut in the 0-0 draw with Yugoslavia in the finals of the 1982 World Cup in Spain.
- At 17 years and 41 days, Norman Whiteside is the second youngest player ever to make his debut for Northern Ireland/Ireland. The youngest is Sammy Johnston who was 15 years and 154 days when he played in the very first international v England in February 1882.
- Whiteside’s record in a Northern Ireland shirt is won 13, drew 13 and lost 12.